October 10, 1924, the World Series of Baseball featured the Washington Senators against the New York Giants. Each team had won three games. It was the bottom of the ninth inning in the seventh and final game of the series.
The first two batters for New York struck out. Tied at three runs each the third batter swung hard at a fast curve ball and missed. The second pitch was also missed. Deadly silence filled the ball park. All seemed lost! The series would go into extra innings. The third pitch came to the plate and was hit hard and long. The crowd was on its feet. It seemed like a homerun but the ball hit a light pole and bounced back into fair play.
The batter would probably only have a triple but the third base coach signaled him to try for home. The outfielder picked up the ball and threw it to the short stop who then turned and quickly threw it to the catcher. The runner pushed with all his strength to make home plate before the catcher caught the ball. In the cloud of dust at home plate it looked like the runner touched home plate just a second before the ball was in the catcher’s mitt. The umpire rushed to confer with the other judges and then gave a signal that the runner was “out.” Mayhem erupted.
Cries of “Kill The Umpire” filled the park. It seemed there might be a riot.
Then the umpire spoke into the park microphone and said, “The runner is out because he didn’t touch first base!” In his haste the runner failed to step on first base.
Three more innings were played and in the twelfth, Washington scored and won the series, becoming the 1924 World Champions.
Evangelist Angel Martinez often told this story as an illustration of true Christianity. He likened “First Base” to “Salvation.” That’s where we have to start. Knowing God personally is the beginning of an eternal relationship. “Second Base” was “Church Membership.” Affiliating with other Christians in a growing context of learning and fellowship is essential. Angel said “Third Base” was “Service.” Not only what we get, but what we give is vastly important. In our service to God, there is “so much to do, so few to do it, and so little time to make it happen.” And lastly, “Home Plate” is a focus on “Heaven.” The future is bright. The provisions are great. The time ahead is enormous.
As in the 1924 World Series story if we miss touching First Base we’re out! Nothing else will matter. John Henry Newman said, “Fear not that your life shall come to an end, but rather that it shall never have a beginning.” So true! For all of us our life will have an end, whether sooner or later. But for some of us we never begin life. We never touch “First Base.” In haste we think we can make it without “Salvation.” This was the purpose of Christ’s Coming 2,000 years ago. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17) “…the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37)
To think we can make Home Plate and Heaven while skipping First Base is insane. Just as there are rules in sports there are also rules in life. It’s not just our breaking the rules, the rules will break us.
“First Base” can be touched today. Our relationship with God can start now! It’s not what we might do for God, no matter how long or hard we try. It’s receiving what He has done for us through Christ’s Death and Resurrection.
Remember the words of Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him…” God is knocking and calling. Open up today.
Till next time,
-Don Johnson, Kirby Pines Chaplain